By Marion Brody Kelly
This time I brought water. This time we had the extending leashes. This time we had fun.
I hadn’t been to Salem Lake in years. As soon as we approached the parking lot, memories of canoes and paddle boats returned. The dogs jumped out of the car, excited by this new place as well as by their new, unthinkably long leashes. We started down the path, the dogs practicing returning to my side when bicycles or joggers passed. What a doggie heaven! So much to smell and see. Jake stood for a long while considering the ducks from afar. I don’t think he would have fed them, for all of the reasons listed on the sign. He did appear to want to get to know them better.
The first two miles were easy, flat, and well-traveled. Babies were being pushed in strollers, dogs were being pulled by runners, and we enjoyed the busy chatter of crickets. We soon reached a rocky little creek area where a family was splashing while Mom read on a bench. Although I know dogs aren’t supposed to get in the lake, it seemed fair for the guys to wet their paws in the creek. Sam sloshed around on his belly, and Jake took a few careful steps while they both got a quick drink.
The mile markers kept me aware of our distance, and I realized it would be quite a walk to go all the way around the lake, but we were all enjoying ourselves, so we walked on. Every so often, we crossed over little rivulets of water that gave the dogs a chance to drink and cool off. I used the bottled water for myself. While I kept busy noticing spectacular spider webs, hollowed trees, and tiny, daisy-like flowers, the dogs trotted from tree stump to boulder introducing the world to themselves.
At around the half-way mark, we suddenly found ourselves walking along Linville Road, and then just as quickly returned to the woods. There were still bikes and the occasional jogger at this far point, but it seems that most walkers don’t go all the way around the path, at least on a Thursday morning. Those who passed were friendly and polite.
I could read the mood of the dogs by their tails. When they started to feel the heat of the day, their flags drooped. Luckily, there were more spots for the dogs to get wet and happy, tails up, ready for another smell.
By the end, we were all tired. It was a long walk, seven miles in about three hours including the breaks for splashing. But we were happy tired. The dogs are asleep now, back at the house, feet twitching, dream-woofing, as they relive and re-imagine the day. I could have been cleaning or working in the yard, but life is too short to miss the chance for a long walk beside a lake.